ODESSA — At the end of the night, it’s hard to believe Almira/Coulee-Hartline led by 24 points and didn’t win the 1B Northeast league championship on Friday against Odessa.
But no lead is safe in eight-man football. The New England Patriots proved that no lead is safe in the NFL.
The Tigers (7-0) scored 36 points in the third quarter with the help of a dominant running game to beat the once-beaten Warriors 64-54.
“Their adjustment (at halftime) was they were going to come out and cram it down our throat,” said ACH coach Brandon Walsh, whose team scored on its first three possessions and led 36-12 at the half.
The Tigers trailed 22-0 before they even got on the scoreboard. Warriors quarterback Maguire Isaak had already thrown his third touchdown pass of the game before they scored again in the second quarter.
Isaak, who was 12-of-20 for 222 yards and four touchdown passes, threw three TD passes and ran for another in the first half and the Warriors (7-2) settled into a comfortable halftime lead, 36-12.
“They gave it to their two best athletes (Gaven Elder and Colton Hunt) and they were going to run it until we stopped them, and we never did,” Walsh said. “They like to run first and they pounded it. When we started to guess with the lead, they’d hit us with the play action.”
The game was fairly equal in terms of overall numbers. ACH finished with 404 yards of total offense and Odessa finished with 551. Isaak threw 22 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another. Camden Weber was 14-of-19 for 223 and two TDs. ACH junior Gage Burchill picked him twice. But the significant difference was in the running game where the Tigers rushed for 328 yards on 53 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. The pass-first Warriors, who scored 22 points in the first 12 minutes, finished with 182 on the ground, including fours rushing touchdowns.
“They out-hustled us. We took a couple of plays off and that killed us,” Burchill said. “We let down in our assignments. We can play tough against the power run game. I don’t think we’ve played a better half of football than we did in the first half.
“But we let down in the second half. This loss will only bring us closer.”
The Tigers tied the game at 48-48 on an Elder 21-yard run with a minute left in the third quarter. The Odessa defense stopped ACH on downs to open the final period and the Tigers took their first lead on a Weber to Hunt scoring strike to make it 54-48. They threw one more dagger at the Warriors, recovering an onside kick with 9:21 remaining, but gave it back on a fumble on the very next play.
ACH drove it 55 yards on 10 plays and drew to within two points on a Hayden Loomis 2-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal. But they failed to convert and 54-52 was as close as the Warriors would get in their second loss of the season.
“Odessa made a good adjustment lining up in the I-formation and giving the ball to Hunt and Elder,” said Isaak, who also plays cornerback. “Those are good backs that are tough to stop and they just ran downhill on us all second half. The past few years the I-formation has been their identity. This year, they’ve spread it out a little, but when they went back to it when it mattered.”
Score by quarters
ACH 22 14 12 6 - 54
Odessa 6 6 36 16 - 62
ACH - Gage Burchill 14 pass from Maguire Isaak (Maguire Isaak run)
ACH - Maguire Isaak 5 run (Payton Nielsen pass from Isaak)
ACH - Parker Zappone 35 pass from Isaak (pass fails)
OD - Camden Weber 73 run (run fails)
ACH - Hayden Loomis 23 run (Isaak run)
OD - Colton Hunt 25 run (run fails)
ACH - Zappone 26 pass from Isaak (run fails)
OD - Colton Hunt 43 pass from Weber (Hunt pass from Weber)
ACH - Zappone 13 run (pass fails)
OD - Hunt 1 run (Hunt run)
OD - Weber 8 run (Weber run)
ACH - Zappone 14 pass from Isaak (run fails)
OD - Gaven Elder 7 run (run fails)
OD - Elder 21 run (run fails)
OD - Hunt 2 pass from Weber (Elder run)
ACH - Hayden Loomis 1 run (pass fails)
OD - Camden Weber 1 run (pass fails)